Our Vice Presidents are people who have supported POhWER for many, many years. Read about these very special supporters.

Aruna Patel

Aruna PatelAruna benefited personally from POhWER’s services in 2000 after being discharged from hospital. Her experience working with her advocate, inspired her to join the charity to continue to help and support others; in 2008 she became a trustee for the organisation.

Aruna is deeply involved in charity work as a trustee of Watford Indian Association. As a carer herself, looking after her mother and as a patient, she is able to relate to the Asian community and provide a vital voice for the vulnerable.

Having seen the impact and benefit POhWER can have on people’s quality of life herself, she wants to continue to work with POhWER staff to deliver the charity’s next steps.

Carol Lee MBECarol Lee

Carol was a Trustee of POhWER since 1999. She retired at the AGM in December 2013.

The work that Carol has done with POhWER and will continue to do as one of our Vice Presidents is invaluable. Her aim is to make sure the voice of people with learning disabilities continues to be listened to and heard.

In 2002 Carol was awarded the MBE for her work with the Government on the Valuing People White Paper.

Gary Blaker KCGary Blaker

Gary is a barrister specialising in property and chancery disputes. He was appointed a KC in 2015. Having been involved in advocacy projects in Hertfordshire since 1992, Gary became a founder trustee of POhWER in 1996. He remained a trustee until 2012 and on retiring from the board was made a Vice-President. Since then, he has been involved in projects aimed at raising POhWER’s profile and fundraising capabilities.

He feels strongly about advocacy and ensuring that all people are able to have their voice heard. Gary is delighted to have witnessed the growth of the charity from small local beginnings to now a strong national presence.

In 2020 Gary was appointed a Recorder (part time Judge) sitting in Crown Courts on the South Eastern Circuit.  He is also the Chair of the Chancery Bar Association’s wellbeing and social responsibility committee, a Bencher of Middle Temple and a Trustee of the Hyman Foundation (a charity promoting British photography in all its diversity).

Gary is married with one daughter and lives in north London.

Iris LusackIris Lusack

Iris was one of the founder members of POhWER and has been involved in advocacy for many years. Iris was one of the first people to become an Honorary Vice-President.

Judith SmartJudith Smart

Judith is a founder Vice-President of POhWER and was Company Secretary up until 2011. Judith also works for Herts PASS.

Judith lived in a residential setting and experienced the isolation and fear of being afraid to speak up for oneself and looks forward to the day when every disabled person is treated with dignity and respect. As she points out we are all members of one society.

Besides sitting on her soapbox, Judith enjoys socialising, travel, listening to classical music (being of a certain age), drawing, and writing. Her hope for the future is that we can live in an inclusive society, and believes we are getting there gradually!

Judith became a Founder Vice-President in 2011.

Phil Lawrence

Phil LawrencePhil is very active in promoting advocacy. As well as his involvement with POhWER he was also a founding member and volunteer with Headway Hertfordshire.

During his time as a Trustee of POhWER, he has helped to establish its generic service, now known as community advocacy.

Phil was delighted to be made an Honorary Vice-President in 2012.

Steven RathboneSteven Rathbone

Steven is a founder member of POhWER and was a membership secretary for the charity up until his retirement in 2011 when he became one of the first honorary Vice-Presidents. Steven has been involved in advocacy since 1993 and has spent a lot of time visiting other projects around the Country taking part in presentations and promoting advocacy and self-advocacy.

In 2008 Steven was in a film starring Derek Jacobi and attended Cannes Film Festival where it was shown. Steven collects key rings and baseball caps.

Tim AnfilogoffTim Anfilogoff

Tim came to work as advocacy development worker in Hertfordshire in 1992. He got together a group of people who used or wanted to use advocacy (The People Who Use Advocacy Group) to make sure that the new advocacy agency (which became POhWER) had its values set by people with disabilities and other relevant experience. He went with PWUAG to visit the Charity Commission because people were saying that people with learning disabilities couldn’t be charitable trustees. One of his proudest memories is the Charity Commission stating clearly that this was not true and that with the right support, this would not be a problem.

Tim now works for Herts Valleys CCG leading on social prescribing and improving support for family carers.